The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
Q Flowering Crops for Foliage Growers
Central Science C. A. Conover and R. T. Poolel
Library University of Florida, IFAS
Central Florida Research and Education Center Apopka
MAR 9 1qRCQ CFREC-Apopka Research Report, RH-88-9
University of Flnrbe popularity of potted flowering plants has increased in recent
L-- --years and some foliage growers have added flowering plants to their product
line. The major obstacle to growing flowering plants in foliage production
facilities is the lack of high enough light levels. Glass and polyethylene
covered greenhouses can be used to produce high-light requiring flowering
crops provided cooling systems are adequate, but many fiberglass
greenhouses have significant percentages of shade built into the fiberglass
and therefore cannot be utilized to grow high-light intensity crops.
The following plant materials can be grown under conditions similar to
those used to grow foliage plants. In some cases, slightly higher light
intensities are required, but these can be obtained by removing some of the
shade paint or shade cloth. The plants discussed are those that are
presently being grown and have the potential for increased sales.
Aphelandra squarrosa 'Dania'. Aphelandras are sold both as flowering
plants and, when not in bloom, as foliage plants. Several other cultivars
are available, but 'Dania' is the easiest to grow and flower. Light
requirements are 800 to 1000 foot-candles for vegetative growth and 1500
ft-c for flowering. In the summer light levels for vegetative growth must
be maintained initially or flowering will occur when plants are too short
and in the winter they may not flower at all if light levels are not high
enough. Optimal growth will occur when temperatures are between 60 and
900F, with soil temperatures between 70 and 800F. A well-drained potting
medium with good aeration should be used and a 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer at a
rate of 1800 pounds nitrogen/acre/year (N/A/yr) is appropriate.
Over-fertilization often causes postharvest leaf drop. Stock plants must
be checked and those with leaf crinkle culled or this problem may become
severe and a low quality crop produced.
The potential for this crop is good. Only a limited number of
producers sell aphelandras in flower, probably because it is somewhat more
difficult to grow than most foliage plants; subsequently, there is a demand
for good quality plants in flower.
Anthurium scherzeranum, Anthurium andraeanum and Anthurium "hybrids".
Anthuriums make excellent plants for the home but, except for scherzeranum,
most have been too large for use as pot plants. New, smaller hybrids are
being developed specifically for use as pot plants. Light requirements are
1500 to 2000 ft-candles and the optimum temperatures are 65 to 900F. The
use of a well-aerated potting medium such as 2 parts peat:l part perlite
and 1-1-1 ratio fertilizer at 1200 to 1500 lb N/A/yr is suggested.
1Professor and Center Director, and Professor, Plant Physiology,
* respectively, Central Florida Research and Education Center Apopka, 2807
Binion Road, Apopka, FL 32703.
Even though the cultivars presently available do not make the best pot
plants, there appears to be considerable demand for anthuriums and with the
new hybrids being developed this potential should increase. The major
drawback for most producers is the 12 to 18 month growth cycle necessary
for a quality crop.
Bromeliads. Many genera and species compose this group called "bromeliads".
Some of the most common genera sold as flowering plants
include Aechmea, Guzmania, Neoregelia, Tillandsia and Vriesea.
Optimum light requirements for the bromeliads vary with the genus, but
ranges are from 1500 to 3000 ft-candles. Optimum temperature range is from
60 to 900F and fertilization requirements are 1200 to 1500 lb N/A/yr of a
3-1-2 ratio fertilizer. Bromeliads require a highly-aerated medium with
excellent drainage which can be achieved by using 3 peat moss:2 perlite or
1 peat:l pine bark.
Since most genera are flowered by use of a growth regulator such as
Ethephon, an ethylene-releasing compound, timing is a special
consideration. Ethephon should be used only when plants are of sufficient
size or the inflorescence will be small.
Extensive imports of flowering bromeliads from the Netherlands is
occurring, confirming that there is an excellent demand for low-cost potted
flowering plants. Producers in the U.S. should be able to capitalize on
Crossandra infundibuliformis. Crossandra is an excellent small
flowering plant that blooms year-round and has pale orange flowers with
overlapping petals. Some cultivars have different shades of orange and a
yellow one is now available, but it is a much higher light requiring
variety and needs some improvements for its full potential to be realized.
Best flowering of crossandras occur within a light range of 1500 to
3000 ft-candles and with insufficient light weak plants with few flowers
will result. Preferred temperatures are from 65 to 900F. These plants are
tolerant of a wide range of media such as 2 peat moss:l vermiculite:l
perlite, or 3 peat moss:l sand or most premixed media. Use of a 3-1-2
ratio fertilizer at a rate of 1500 to 1800 lb N/A/yr is satisfactory.
For the best quality, it is necessary to prune crossandras to obtain a
desirable shape and treat them with B-9 to obtain dark green foliage and
heavy flowering. A 5-inch pot is probably the minimum size for a quality
The true potential for this crop cannot be assessed at this time since
the number of plants available in 5-inch pots has been limited, but the
need for a small year-round flowering crop is present.
Episcia cupreata. Episcia (Flame Violet) and its numerous cultivars
are low-light flowering plants with ornamental foliage and a wide range of
flower colors. These are excellent plants for hanging baskets or as small
Episcias tolerate a wide range of light intensities, from 1000 to 4000
ft-candles. Optimum temperatures are from 65 to 850F and poor growth or
chilling damage can result from temperatures below 600F. A potting medium
which is well-aerated with good water holding capacity similar to 2 peat
moss:l vermiculite:1 perlite is required and a fertilization rate of 1200
to 1500 lb N/A/yr of a 1-1-1 ratio fertilizer is optimum. The use of
growth regulators, such as Bonzi, may improve the form and make these
plants even better as pot plants.
Even though there is already great potential for episcias as hanging
baskets and small pots in interiors, their full potential can only be
assessed with additional information on the effects of growth regulators on
Saintpaulia 'hybrids'. African violets are very popular and a
mainstay of indoor long-term flowering pot plants. There are thousands of
cultivars, of which several hundred are grown commercially. Plants will
flower with as little as 500 ft-candles, but suggested levels are 1000 to
1200 ft-c. Optimal temperatures are between 65 and 850F. Day temperatures
above 850F and night temperatures above 80F will reduce quality of some
cultivars by causing poor growth and heat delay of flowering. Cultivar
selection for both growing and market conditions is recommended.
A potting medium combination of 2 peat moss:l vermiculite:l perlite or
3 peat moss:l perlite will produce high quality plants. Fertilization at
1200 lb N/A/yr of a 1-1-1 ratio fertilizer is optimum. Slow-release
fertilizer sources or fertigation may be used, but the best plants are
produced on capillary mats or using drip tubes so that no water is applied
to the foliage.
The market is excellent for high quality Saintpaulias.
Schlumbergera truncata. Christmas cactus gained tremendous popularity
during the late 1970's, but production has declined somewhat in recent
years. Numerous new hybrids produced both in the U.S. and Europe are
contributing to a renewed interest in these plants.
Below 1500 ft-candles plants are often too weak, while above 3000
ft-candles nutrient deficiency problems may occur. Optimal temperatures
are between 60 and 90F; temperatures above 900F cause bud drop. Seasonal
temperatures must be dealt with since plants may bloom too early if the
fall season is warmer than usual, or bloom too late if plants are not
maintained at 60F or higher at night. Christmas cacti require a
highly-aerated potting medium, such as 3 peat moss:l perlite.
Fertilization of 1200 lb N/A/yr from a 1-1-1 ratio fertilizer is
Flower initiation requires a minimum of 8 weeks of short days and
although most growers withhold irrigation to initiate flowering, it does
not seem to be necessary. Postharvest bud drop is a problem if buds are
too small at the time of shipping however, spraying plants at first bud
color with silver thiosulfate (50 ppm) helps hold flowers on the plants
Christmas cactus can continue to gain in popularity if growers provide
consumers with a high quality product. Potential is especially good for
producers who can market their own product.
Spathiphyllum 'hybrids'. Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily) is a popular
low-light plant which has increased in popularity during the last few
years. Several newer hybrids have better form, increased flowering and
improved responses to growth regulators. Some cultivars flower in response
to a single application of GA at 250 ppm which allows producers to sell
flowering plants year-round.
Light requirements fall within the range of 1500 to 2500 ft-candles.
Temperatures are optimum between 65 and 900F. A well-aerated potting
medium combined with a fertilization rate of 1500 lb N/A/yr of a 3-1-2
ratio fertilizer gives the best growth. Cylindrocladium root rot can be a
real problem with these plants so caution is advised. Detection of
Cylindrocladium root rot is difficult since the foliage does not give an
early indication of its presence. This disease can be avoided if
pathogen-free stock is used and sanitary procedures are thoroughly
observed. The market potential for these plants in flower is good.